GREENSBORO - There was good sharing and then there was bad sharing for the North Carolina A&T men's basketball team Sunday night.
In their final tune up before the start of the regular season 8 p.m., on Friday, Nov.9 against Division III Greensboro College at Corbett Sports Center, the Aggies dished out 23 assists in a convincing 101-66 exhibition win over Division II Barber Scotia at Corbett. Senior forward Austin Witter showed the most generosity with 11 points, six assists and five rebounds as the Aggies had 10 different players record assists. Junior guard Lamont Middleton added 20 points and Adrian Powell had 17 points, three assists and four steals.
"The big thing we came away with offensively is that we made the extra pass to get good shots," said A&T head coach Cy Alexander. "They played zone 95 percent of the time, and I thought our zone offense was very effective."
Alexander said the result of the Aggies making the extra pass was their 49 percent shooting percentage, which was decisively better than what they shot Thursday night (37 percent) in their exhibition win over Fayetteville State. A&T's ability to share the ball with its opponent didn't go unnoticed by Alexander either. The Aggies turned the ball over 17 times. In addition, the Sabers shot a whopping 46 free throws.
"We simply can't be successful if we turn the ball over that many times, and if we foul that many times," Alexander said. "We put them on the line way too much. We were not moving our feet the way we should have. That's something that can be corrected. We've just got to work on our shell defensive principles."
If the defense the Aggies played during their two exhibition games improves any further, there could be some smiling faces in Aggieland. The Aggies compiled 27 steals and blocked 16 shots in two games versus Fayetteville State and Barber Scotia. On Sunday, the Aggies forced the Sabers into 35 turnovers. Despite the Sabers' many mistakes, they remained competitive the first 10 minutes of the game. Two Damien McLendon free throws put the Sabers down six, 16-10.
But a barrage of Powell 3-pointers broke the game open for A&T. The Aggies hit six 3-pointers over a seven-minute stretch. Junior point guard Jeremy Underwood capped off the fireworks with a three from the top of the key that gave A&T a commanding 44-17 lead with 4:31 remaining in the half.
The Aggies were never threatened from there as they grew their lead to as many as 37. They finished the night with 12 threes.
"We've got to play 10-times harder Friday (vs. Greensboro College) than we played in our exhibition games," Alexander said. "If we play our system the way we're capable of, it doesn't matter what the other team does because we'll be able to defend them."
The Aggies not only came away with a defensive identity during the preseason, but it also looks like they have some players who can put the ball in the basket. Including the Blue & Gold scrimmage from Saturday night, Middleton averaged 21.7 points and was 25-for-30 from the free throw line. Senior guard Jean Louisme looks to be a superb sixth man, he averaged 13.0 points in the two exhibition contest.
It all counts on Friday. "The preparation for Greensboro College has started," Alexander said as closed his postgame interview.